Steel City Brewing

Perhaps a less impressive milestone than that of this newsletter, but this month is the tenth anniversary for Steel City Brewing. One September day in 2009 Dave and Gazza went to what was then called The Brew Company, now Exit 33, to take the first steps to becoming ‘cuckoo brewing’ pioneers.

With much technical guidance and advice from Pete, we were able to get our first beer out despite the minor technicality of not having a brewery – and we still don’t! As many will know, Gazza left to start brewing full time at Hopcraft and since then back to cuckoo brewing as one half of Team Toxic/Mission Creep, but will hopefully be at the anniversary brew, along with Pete, and also our former partner Hannah, back then the landlady of the excellent Harlequin pub.

Looking back over that decade, it’s truly impressive just how far the UK beer scene has come. The brew that day was ‘Hop Manifesto’, in the style for which Steel City would become best known,  dubbed by us ‘Transatlantic Pale Ale’ as it married a British-style 4-5%ish ABV malt base of pale malt and a bit of wheat (as opposed to ‘balancing’ with crystal malt, rye, etc and being 7%+ as was the style of the time Stateside) with very American hop dosage.

A sign of how the market has changed is that back then Hop Manifesto was seen as ‘extremely’ hoppy (or unbalanced, depending on viewpoint!), yet when we look back at the recipe today it would be somewhat underwhelming to today’s hopheads. Therefore the tenth anniversary brew ‘Manifesto Reloaded’ is a sort-of re-brew but also updated for a 2019 audience – same malt base, same bittering hops, and the same mix of flavour hops but twice the quantity!

Looking back it feels almost surreal to consider that what we wanted when we started brewing has mostly come true – it seems odd to think that it was genuinely difficult to find really hoppy beer, now that we see a new DIPA or DDH launch every five minutes. Similarly there was almost nothing in the way of sours, imperial stouts and all the other crazy stuff we now take for granted. Our pipedream was a US-style brewpub offering a wide range of styles rather than just a few very similar trad styles, at the time there really seemed to be no market for it in the UK, yet here we are just a few years later with brewpubs, taprooms and bars offering an amazing array of style.

The original Hop Manifesto was launched in October 2009, and Manifesto Reloaded will be launched at The Crow Inn on Saturday 5th October at a ‘Decade of Bitterness’ event featuring other new and one-off Steel City beers along with a couple of away collabs. Provisionally this will include the only ever cask of Emperor’s/Lost Industry collab Stout Wars: Rogue Five and the launch of two or three barrel-aged beers.

What will the next decade bring? Wouldn’t like to even guess…!

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